Spanking in the Theatre

16May11

Spanking has always been more common on the theatre stage than anywhere else in the performing arts. Back in the 1920s and 30s the London stage was positively awash with spanking scenes in plays. Even today many Avant-garde productions (for example spanking Shakespeare) will include a scene to get noticed.

Now there may be a reason for this.

Back in the 19th century (for century watchers that’s the one before last when they made a virtue of prudishness) spanking was often part of theatre tradition. Much has been written about spanking as sex substitute in the movies and on stage, so maybe it is true as back in those days a clapper-stick for spanking was as much part of theatrical tradition as the pratfall.

A clapper-stick consisted of two pieces of light-weight wood that made an exaggerated noise when used in mock spankings but wasn’t supposed to hurt.

Apparently, on some theatrical scenes, notably Drury Lane, spanking was used as in informal discipline for chorus girls.

One prank they used to play was to summon a girl, who had for instance been late to rehearsal, to go across the director’s knee for a spanking in front of everyone. The poor girl it seems never knew whether this was just to be an embarrassing bit of horseplay or whether the clapper stick had been replaced with a sturdier more painful paddle.

It was also often replaced during a performance by way of a joke or to bring a corpser or scene stealer back into line.

As one 1950s chorus girl recalls in the memoir Theatre Days, “I remember the little skit we did involved a little dance where everyone turned to their neighbour one by one. But being the one on the end of the line I had to bend over and get a swat on the bottom. Then I was supposed to jump up in outrage and mistakenly slap the leading man who promptly grabs the paddle and turns me over his knee to great laughter and applause.”

“Now this went well enough as they used the clapper which made a lot of sound but did not hurt. Only I knew that at some point someone would switch paddle and I would get it for real. But night after night went by and nothing happened until the last night. ‘Right,’ I said, ‘this is the night’ so I put some padding down the back of my tights.”

“Sure enough when I bent over, there was a dull thud instead of the usual loud crack. Hearing this, the leading man grabbed me as usual but spared me the paddle and began spanking me with his hand. That is until he discovered the padding. In ostentatious mock horror he made a comedy of discovering the padding and pulling it clown style from the back of my tights much to everyone’s amusement. Everyone part from me that is. Then, you guessed it, he gave me a real spanking on the seat of my thin tights in front of everyone without the benefit of the paddling. At least he didn’t use the paddle, but I can tell you my yells were for real that night and I couldn’t sit down for days.”

Who’d be a chorus girl ay?



2 Responses to “Spanking in the Theatre”

  1. In the twenty first century, I believe on the stage of Broadway, New York, or the West End theatre’s of London, the real corporal punishment implement should be used, be it the hand, paddle, hairbrush, birchrod, cane, or whip. And used with gusto.

  2. 2 George

    Only over 18 yo 🙂


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